The US would come to Taiwan’s defense and has a commitment to defend the nation China claims as its own, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday, although the White House later said there was no change in policy toward Taiwan.
“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall meeting when asked if the US would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has been facing mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty.
While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
In August, a Biden administration official said US policy on Taiwan had not changed, after the president appeared to suggest the US would defend the nation if it were attacked.
A White House spokesperson said Biden at his town hall was not announcing any change in US policy and “there is no change in our policy,” but declined further comment when asked if Biden had misspoken.
“The US defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the spokesperson said.
Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military resolve, because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world.”
“What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” Biden said.
“I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views,” he added.
In Taipei, the Presidential Office, responding to Biden’s remarks, said its position remains the same, which is it would neither give in to pressure nor “rashly advance” when it receives support.
Taiwan will show a firm determination to defend itself, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said in a statement, adding that Taipei recognized the Biden administration’s actions to show “rock-solid” support for Taiwan.
Taiwan would continue to demonstrate its resolve to defend itself and work with like-minded countries to contribute to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the Indo-Pacific region, he added.
In Beijing, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) yesterday said “there is no room for China to compromise or make concessions, and no one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Additional reporting by Lee Hsin-fang and AP
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